‘Eco-Friendly’ and ‘Green’ are terms that have recently been widely used and can indicate several things, such as renewability, sustainability, energy efficiency, non-toxicity, being minimally invasive, and a reduction in carbon footprint. These concepts have taken root within many diverse industries. More specifically, Green Healthcare has been an established initiative and goal for many years now within the medical community and is evolving into mainstream implementation. This new model of healthcare is based on the understanding that human and environmental health are inextricably linked. Green and Eco-Friendly Healthcare takes us beyond the Hippocratic oath, calling upon all health professionals to also “do no harm to the environment” and by focusing more on prevention, precaution, education, and wellness, we can significantly contribute to improving the health of our patients, community, and the environment. The broad concept of Green Healthcare encompasses green building and design of offices, as well as sustainable and eco-friendly practices employed during patient care. So, for starters we must ask several essential questions:

Why focus on the healthcare sector?
  • Almost every healthcare setting, including private practice medical and dental offices, utilize PBT (persistent bio-accumulative toxins), such as mercury, lead, PVC, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), HBCDs (hexabromocyclododecanes), and other harmful chemicals and elements, which with exposure can adversely affect the health of team members, patients and the environment.
  • Healthcare facilities and offices spend over $8.5 billion dollars on energy annually to meet patient needs.
  • Within the healthcare industry actual documented toxic medical waste generation from the WHO (World Health Organization) for North America alone is approximately 6lbs/person/year, which is an astounding 1,108,000 tons per year and exponentially growing.
  • The U.S. ranks the health care sector as the fourth largest source of mercury air emissions.
  • The dental industry alone is responsible for approximately 3.7 tons of mercury-containing waste, 680 million plastic and paper chair barriers, light handle covers, and patient bibs, and 1.7 billion instrument sterilization pouches yearly.
  • The elimination of single-use plastic suction and irrigation tips from a single dental practice can divert approximately 20,400 pieces of plastic from entering the waste stream per year.

Given these facts, it becomes an inherent duty and obligation for the entire dental industry to follow suit as integral members of the healthcare community. This is where eco-friendly dentistry® has emerged. The term eco-friendly dentistry® has been coined and trademarked by the founder of ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio®, the nation’s first green ORA® Oral surgery facility, Steven Koos D.D.S., M.D.

How is eco-friendly dentistry® defined?
  • eco-friendly dentistry® is a newly evolving practice of dentistry, which encompasses a simultaneous devotion to sustainability, prevention, precaution, and a minimally invasive patient-centric, as well as global-centric, treatment philosophy.

The implementation of eco-friendly practices in the dental office involves an extensive list of protocols, procedures, materials, state-of-the-art equipment and methods, but does not have to be a daunting endeavor and can be accomplished with small incremental steps. The best place to start the process is through the EDA™ (Eco-Dentistry Association) at www.ecodentistry.org. The EDA has established the authoritative benchmarks for green certification in the dental industry. Going green can also mean saving green – nearly every eco-friendly innovation is also friendly to the bottom line.

Dr. Steven Koos specializes in ORA® Oral, maxillofacial and implant surgery. Dr. Koos is a graduate of the Leadership in Green Healthcare™ curriculum and sits on the Advisory Board of the Eco-Dentistry Association. He has received numerous accolades, greatly contributed to sustainability within the dental industry and has proudly created the nation’s first fully “green” ORA® Oral surgery facility – ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio® Chicago, IL. 312-328-9000 orasurgery.com

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